Tuesday, January 2, 2018

An American Bulldog Named Meatball

A note before you begin: I started writing this on Christmas Eve, when everything happened.  As you can imagine, it was painful to finish at the time.  I tucked it away until I could write it the way I wanted to.

5/23/07- 12/24/17

This is a post that I knew I would one day have to write. However, I didn’t think that one day would be on Christmas Eve. Our beloved American bulldog Meatball crossed the Rainbow Bridge this morning, and it was one of the hardest and surest decisions my husband and I have had to make as a family.  Our hearts are shattered into a thousand tiny pieces that I can’t even begin to make sense of right now. I wanted to get some thoughts out about the amazing boy he was.

We rescued Meatball from a Craig’s List ad in January 2008. He was a lively nine month old puppy chained up in a garage in San Jose, CA. He had quickly outgrown his “family” who had other priorities, none of which included exercising an energetic 100 lb dog. My husband had been researching the breed and understood what parenting an American bulldog would mean.  We took a drive out to go meet him, and it was love at first sight.
My husband and myself with our first pug Turner and Meatball.  This was taken in Lake Tahoe the day after our wedding.
We returned to San Jose to pick him up and bring him home a few days later. We took him to the vet for his checkup. An assistant commented that he was quite a meat head, all muscle and energy. Something clicked, and we knew his name had to be Meatball.  My husband and I were living in an apartment, but in the process of buying our first home with a yard.  We moved him into our cramped accommodations with our first pug Turner, thinking it was a very temporary situation. Of course, it wasn’t.
Meatball loving his yard.
If you remember back to 2008, the real estate market bubble burst.  Home prices in the Bay Area were falling, and we were losing the homes were were bidding on as quickly as we were finding them. At one point, when the four of us were living in our tiny apartment and getting up at the crack of dawn to take our new puppy for hour long walks to burn off his immense energy, we wondered if we had made a mistake. The flu swept through our home, making our morning routine an unpleasant obligation. We considered giving him back. We considered rehoming him. Somehow, we pushed through.  By the end of March, we had closed on a new home with a yard.

The day Petunia met Meatball.
We quickly became a family.  Pictures of Meatball were used as table markers in our wedding reception. Our pug Turner passed away, and we brought home Petunia and Harriet. Our new dog pack was complete. We took vacations to the family home in Lake Tahoe. We explored the dog park.  He was our best friend and protector.  We had amazing adventures.  Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever.

Our complete dog pack.
We discovered Meatball’s first mast cell tumors in the summer of 2015, right before we moved across the county.  He had four removed and quickly recovered.  A few days later we threw everyone in the back of our SUV and drove to Atlanta. We discovered more tumors in December 2016.  He had a second surgery to remove three additional tumors and a much slower recovery. He didn’t bounce back this time. We decided not to put him through more surgeries, but were optimistic about the future.

A picture of Meatball that was used as a table marker for our wedding reception.
We monitored him on a consistent basis, checking his body for any obvious lumps and bumps. We had an internal scan done to check for any nodules on his organs. We were clear.  He was a ten year old American Bulldog (an old man by big dog standards), but spry like a puppy.  He never slowed down.  Never showed any signs of getting old.  We were grateful for every day.

Does anybody want a treat?
Wednesday December 20th was a day like any other.  My husband was cleaning up after dinner, and all of a sudden he called me into the kitchen.  Meatball was lying on the floor, breathing heavily.  He seemed to be semi-conscious at best, and clearly something was wrong.  After about fifteen minutes he seemed to come out of it, and we moved him into the living room.  He didn't spring up.  He didn't wag his tail.  He was sick.  We made the decision to rush him to the emergency vet.

Wednesday night, when Meatball fell ill.
This was a place we had been before.  Meatball had his second mast cell removal done here.  These people were the experts.  If anyone could fix this situation, it was them.  Within a half an hour we had a diagnosis.  He had a tumor in his spleen that was bleeding into his stomach and causing him pain.  Spleens could be removed, and although the prognosis wasn't terrific, his fight wasn't over.  He had emergency surgery the next morning and a day later we were able to take our boy home.  We were waiting for the results of the biopsy, but his prognosis was 6-9 months at best.  We were just happy to get to spoil him in his remaining months.  We just wanted him back home.

The car ride back home, after his spleen removal surgery.
He came home on Friday the 22nd.  He was clearly in pain from his surgery, but seemed to be recovering.  He wagged his tail.  He barked.  He started following us around.  Best of all, he ate like a champion.  Our boy was back!

Saturday night, when Meatball was recovering, and Petunia was his nurse.
On Sunday morning (Christmas Eve) he got up and walked down stairs.  He looked at his breakfast and turned away from it.  He wanted to lie down.  His gums were pale white.  His breathing became labored.  We knew this was very bad.  He couldn't walk to the car this time, so we carried him.  I sat in the back to keep him company while my husband drove.  If anything happened on the way there, I didn't want him to be alone.

The emergency vet brought out a stretcher and rushed him into critical care.  We waited, hoping that whatever it was could be fixed.  The vet came to talk to us.  It was most likely a blood clot in his lungs.  It couldn't be dissolved.  He was trying to pass over, but struggling to stay alive to see us one more time.  We knew we had to let him go.

Everything that happened next, happened quickly.  We said our tearful goodbyes and told him what a good boy he was.  He sat up and wagged when he saw us.  It was like a punch in the heart.  We stayed with him, attempting to comfort him to the very end.  And then it was over.

We left in a daze.

The past week has been hard.  We have been so very sad.  We lost a member of the family and nothing can ever replace him.  Each day has gotten a little less difficult.  It helps to talk about him and to remember the beautiful, full life he had. 

Best friends

First week in our Atlanta house.

Jumping into Lake Tahoe.

Our pack on the west shore.

Relaxing with a favorite toy.

Bulldog in the moonlight.

They had a bond that was unbreakable.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

I Found My Fairy Blog Mother!

I was completely stumped as to how to resolve the issue with my Photobucket images (see my previous post).  I was googling possible fixes when I stumbled upon this post.  Linda, from the blog Life and Linda was offering to help anyone with the Photobucket problem.  I reached out to her, and she sweetly and quickly fixed everything!  My blog is now back to normal, and I can’t thank her enough.  If you are dealing with the the broken image issue and need help, I cannot recommend her highly enough. She is my blogging angel!

She also has a blog design service, which I wanted to share, called My Fairy Blog Mother.

Monday, December 18, 2017

I Don't Know How To Fix This...

It has been a long time since I have poked my head over here to say hello.  For those of you that reached out via email, I appreciate you thinking of me!  I didn't mean to stay away so long, but now we are at the end of 2017, and not one post. 

A side-effect of not stopping by has been a complete lack of awareness that the blog design has been falling apart, so to speak.  I wanted to do a few updates, but it seems that Photobucket is no longer hosting my titles, and now my blog looks a little strange.  The problem is, I don't know how to fix it.

I reached out to the person who did my blog design, but she doesn't seem to be doing this any longer, and hasn't responded to my email.  The blog titles were hosted from her Photobucket account, so I am not really sure if there is anything I can do on my end to fix this. 

If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.  I would love to start posting again.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Home Is Where The Heart Is: A Year In Atlanta

Our street in springtime

A deer in our front yard

September 14th was our one year house-iversary.  That means that we have officially lived in Atlanta for a whole year.  This has not been the easiest year for me.  There were a lot of changes.  We moved from a tiny house where our dogs got along, into a much bigger house where our two little dogs decided they hated each other's existence.  I missed my friends.  I missed going into an office and feeling that sense of camaraderie with my co-workers.  I missed the mountains and the bay.  I missed the Golden Gate Bridge and the cool evenings in the middle of of July.  I had some hard weeks.  I didn't feel like I belonged here.  I even thought about turning around and going back.

I really missed living in California, but as time went on, things started to change.  We started working on the house, little projects at a time.  We changed paint colors, scraped popcorn of the ceilings, and added new light fixtures. We began exploring the area.  We hosted our first holiday in our new home.  Family flew out to visit us.  I drove to Costco without using my navigation system.  I made new friends.  Suddenly, my trips back to California started to feel more like visits than coming home.

It took some time, but now Georgia is where my heart is.  The Bay Area will always hold a special place for me, but this is my home.  Here are a few highlights from the past year.

Getting rid of the boring neutrals
Taking Harriet for a stroll around the block
Our first daffodil of spring
Meatball blending into the snow in our backyard
Scraping the popcorn off the ceilings
Our first deck garden
This little guy was crossing the road in front of my house
Meatball enjoying the warm evening
My hollyhocks after a storm
Meatball keeping watch over the front yard
Butterfly season

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Results Are In...

Waiting for the vet to call us back with Petunia's biopsy results was agony.  The final report took over a week, but I am happy to say that the tumor was benign!  To celebrate, here are some pug shots.  

Making sure I don't get too far away, but too lazy to follow me downs the stairs.
She literally makes me shoo her down the stairs so she can do her after-dinner business.  Then she doesn't want to come back inside.
Hanging out with her best buddy.
Being this cute is exhausting.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Recent Reads: Things Have Gotten A Little Bit Dirty

Radio silence, then two blog posts in a row?  I am on fire this week!

I have been reading/listening to a lot of books in 2016.  Partially, because I need something to pass the time on those 5 hour cross-country flights for work, and partially because I joined a book club.  I have to admit, I am not much of a joiner.  I generally don't like having commitments to places that I need to be (outside of work).  I like the freedom to plan my weekends as they approach.  However, my friend has been a member of this book club for eight years and was persistent that I come.  I was a little afraid that reading a book because someone said I had to would feel a little too much like school.  So far this has been a good experience, and I have met some interesting people.  We'll see if I still feel this way in a few months.

As you can tell from my reading list, I have recently discovered the author Penelope Ward, and have devoured everything she has written.  Her books fall under the "new adult" category, which comes after "young adult."  These books have all been juicy, fun reads, but definitely not for kids under the age of 18.

I finally read Will Grayson, Will Grayson (it was the last John Green book on my list), and I have to say, I really didn't care for it much.  The same can be said of Burnt Mountain, which had me all the way up until the final chapters, where is just fizzled out and died.

One of my favorite books listed here was The Basic Eight.  It was really well written, and the characters were well developed.  It had the kind of twist ending that you don't really see coming until right before it does.  I recommend reading the summary, if you want to get an idea for how amazing this read really was.  I also really enjoyed Pretty Girls (and the accompanying novella Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes).  They are the kind of books that scare you because you know that this kind of thing really happens.  Definitely not reading you should do right before you go to sleep.

Have you read any of the books on this list?  What's that last good book you have read?

I'm Erin

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Hi, I'm Erin. I am living back on the east coast after 15 years out west. Currently readjusting to humidity and mosquitos. I love to take pictures and read fashion magazines.... and to talk about nothing in particular (ok, and my dogs).

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